Leigh & Stiles' Tom Jones Musical Gets NYC Premiere in NYMF Sept. 26-Oct. 2; Ayers Is Lusty Lad | Playbill

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News Leigh & Stiles' Tom Jones Musical Gets NYC Premiere in NYMF Sept. 26-Oct. 2; Ayers Is Lusty Lad The bawdy, lusty tale of Tom Jones will be told again in the Manhattan premiere of a new musical version by Paul Leigh and George Stiles at the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival Sept. 26-Oct. 2.

The six-performance staging at Theatre at St. Clements is part of NYMF's Next Link series of works that were selected by a panel of industry pros. The showcase is meant to be a "next link" to a fuller commercial or not-for-profit staging.

Based on Henry Fielding's 1749 novel, Tom Jones has a book by Paul Leigh, lyrics by Paul Leigh & George Stiles and music by George Stiles.

The English novel focuses on foundling Tom Jones and his exploits — and the influence of his guardian, Squire Allworthy. Poor Tom has trouble saying no to women. Albert Finney played the role in a famous film version.

North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, MA, presented the world premiere of this version of Tom Jones in 2004. Gabriel Barre directs and Christopher Gattelli choreographs, as they did at North Shore in June 2004. They have invited a number of their earlier players back to the project.

"Join Tom on his journey to find himself and true love," the creators tease. "A classic masterpiece becomes a musical romp as 13 actors portray the 1700s with a hilarious modern flair. A musical comedy love story farce good-overcomes-bad-taste fairytale for everyone." The NYMF cast includes David Ayers (Mamma Mia!, Fiddler on the Roof) as Tom Jones, Stephen Bienskie as Reverend Summer, Mr. Fitzpatrick; Allen Fitzpatrick as Mister Allworthy, Lord Fellamar; Angela Gaylor (La Cage aux Folles) as Sophia Western; Joy Hermalyn as Jennie Jones, Mrs. Waters; Tim Jerome (Me and My Girl, Grand Hotel) as Squire Western; Barbara McCulloh as Landlady, Mrs. Summer; Michele Ragusa (Ragtime) as Mrs. Fitzpatrick; Sheri Sanders as Molly, Susan; Jeremy Webb (Tabletop) as Master Blifil; Ron Wisniski as Mister Thwackum; Nick Wyman (Les Miserables, Sly Fox) as Mister Partridge.

Lynne Shankel (Summer of '42, Altar Boyz) is music director. Jana Zielonka is assistant music director.

Dan Brambilla and Vera Guerin of Stage by Stage LLC are the producers.

Composer Stiles is one half of the songwriting team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, who penned additional songs to the London smash Mary Poppins, as well as the popular "Ugly Duckling"-themed Olivier Award-winning musical, Honk!

Performances play 8 PM Sept. 26, 5 PM and 9 PM Sept. 27, Sept. 28 at 9 PM, 9 PM Oct. 1, 7 PM Oct. 2.

For more information, visit www.nymf.org.


The 18th century novel "Tom Jones" has inspired a number of 20th- and 21st-century musical comedy versions, including one by lyricist-librettist James Goldman and composer Larry Grossman called The Celebrated, Scandalous, Heroic Misadventures of Tom Jones. A 2001 Manhattan reading was presented. Goldman (Follies, The Lion in Winter) completed work on the show prior to his 1998 death. The 23-member company included Nick Wyman and David Ayers, who are in the unrelated NYMF production.

Roundabout Theatre Company explored the Goldman-Grossman version in an earlier 1999 reading, as well.

The composer Bryan Louiselle, who contributed songs to Off-Broadway's Adult Entertainment, has also written a Tom Jones musical.

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